The Addison Gayle Jr. Reader
Edited by Nathaniel Norment Jr. University of Illinois Press, 2008 Library of Congress PS153.N5G299 2009 | Dewey Decimal 810.9896073
This reader collects sixty of the personal essays, critical articles, and other seminal works of Addison Gayle Jr., one of the most influential figures in African American literary criticism and a key pioneer in the Black Arts/Black Aesthetic Movement. The volume contains selective essays that represent the range of Gayle's writing on such subjects as relationships between father and son, cultural nationalism, racism, black aesthetics, black criticism, and black literature. The collection, the first of its kind, includes definitive essays such as "Blueprint for Black Criticism," "The Harlem Renaissance: Toward a Black Aesthetic," and "Cultural Strangulation: Black Literature and the White Aesthetics."
Signaling such recent activist and aesthetic concepts in the work of Kara Walker, Childish Gambino, BLM, Janelle Monáe, and Kendrick Lamar, and marking the exit of the Obama Administration and the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, this anthology explores the role of African American arts in shaping the future, and further informing new directions we might take in honoring and protecting the success of African Americans in the U.S. The essays in African American Arts: Activism, Aesthetics, and Futurity engage readers in critical conversations by activists, scholars, and artists reflecting on national and transnational legacies of African American activism as an element of artistic practice, particularly as they concern artistic expression and race relations, and the intersections of creative processes with economic, sociological, and psychological inequalities. Scholars from the fields of communication, theater, queer studies, media studies, performance studies, dance, visual arts, and fashion design, to name a few, collectively ask: What are the connections between African American arts, the work of social justice, and creative processes? If we conceive the arts as critical to the legacy of Black activism in the United States, how can we use that construct to inform our understanding of the complicated intersections of African American activism and aesthetics? How might we as scholars and creative thinkers further employ the arts to envision and shape a verdant society?
Contributors: Carrie Mae Weems, Carmen Gillespie, Rikki Byrd, Amber Lauren Johnson, Doria E. Charlson, Florencia V. Cornet, Daniel McNeil, Lucy Caplan, Genevieve Hyacinthe, Sammantha McCalla, Nettrice R. Gaskins, Abby Dobson, J. Michael Kinsey, Shondrika Moss-Bouldin, Julie B. Johnson, Sharrell D. Luckett, Jasmine Eileen Coles, Tawnya Pettiford-Wates, Rickerby Hinds.
Published by Bucknell University Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.
The advent of the internet and the availability of social media and digital downloads have expanded the creation, distribution, and consumption of Black cultural production as never before. At the same time, a new generation of Black public intellectuals who speak to the relationship between race, politics, and popular culture has come into national prominence. The contributors to Are You Entertained? address these trends to consider what culture and blackness mean in the twenty-first century's digital consumer economy. In this collection of essays, interviews, visual art, and an artist statement the contributors examine a range of topics and issues, from music, white consumerism, cartoons, and the rise of Black Twitter to the NBA's dress code, dance, and Moonlight. Analyzing the myriad ways in which people perform, avow, politicize, own, and love blackness, this volume charts the shifting debates in Black popular culture scholarship over the past quarter century while offering new avenues for future scholarship.
Contributors. Takiyah Nur Amin, Patricia Hill Collins, Kelly Jo Fulkerson-Dikuua, Simone C. Drake, Dwan K. Henderson, Imani Kai Johnson, Ralina L. Joseph, David J. Leonard, Emily J. Lordi, Nina Angela Mercer, Mark Anthony Neal, H. Ike Okafor-Newsum, Kinohi Nishikawa, Eric Darnell Pritchard, Richard Schur, Tracy Sharpley-Whiting, Vincent Stephens, Lisa B. Thompson, Sheneese Thompson
In the 1960s and early 1970s, Chicago witnessed a remarkable flourishing of visual arts associated with the Black Arts Movement. From the painting of murals as a way to reclaim public space and the establishment of independent community art centers to the work of the AFRICOBRA collective and Black filmmakers, artists on Chicago's South and West Sides built a vision of art as service to the people. In Art for People's Sake Rebecca Zorach traces the little-told story of the visual arts of the Black Arts Movement in Chicago, showing how artistic innovations responded to decades of racist urban planning that left Black neighborhoods sites of economic depression, infrastructural decay, and violence. Working with community leaders, children, activists, gang members, and everyday people, artists developed a way of using art to help empower and represent themselves. Showcasing the depth and sophistication of the visual arts in Chicago at this time, Zorach demonstrates the crucial role of aesthetics and artistic practice in the mobilization of Black radical politics during the Black Power era.
Examining the significant influence of the Soviet Union on the work of four major African American authors—and on twentieth-century American debates about race—Beyond the Color Line and the Iron Curtain remaps black modernism, revealing the importance of the Soviet experience in the formation of a black transnationalism. Langston Hughes, W. E. B. Du Bois, Claude McKay, and Paul Robeson each lived or traveled extensively in the Soviet Union between the 1920s and the 1960s, and each reflected on Communism and Soviet life in works that have been largely unavailable, overlooked, or understudied. Kate A. Baldwin takes up these writings, as well as considerable material from Soviet sources—including articles in Pravda and Ogonek, political cartoons, Russian translations of unpublished manuscripts now lost, and mistranslations of major texts—to consider how these writers influenced and were influenced by both Soviet and American culture. Her work demonstrates how the construction of a new Soviet citizen attracted African Americans to the Soviet Union, where they could explore a national identity putatively free of class, gender, and racial biases. While Hughes and McKay later renounced their affiliations with the Soviet Union, Baldwin shows how, in different ways, both Hughes and McKay, as well as Du Bois and Robeson, used their encounters with the U. S. S. R. and Soviet models to rethink the exclusionary practices of citizenship and national belonging in the United States, and to move toward an internationalism that was a dynamic mix of antiracism, anticolonialism, social democracy, and international socialism. Recovering what Baldwin terms the "Soviet archive of Black America," this book forces a rereading of some of the most important African American writers and of the transnational circuits of black modernism.
Critics often characterize white consumption of African American culture as a form of theft that echoes the fantasies of 1950s-era bohemians, or "White Negroes," who romanticized black culture as anarchic and sexually potent. In Beyond the White Negro, Kimberly Chabot Davis claims such a view fails to describe the varied politics of racial crossover in the past fifteen years.
Davis analyzes how white engagement with African American novels, film narratives, and hip-hop can help form anti-racist attitudes that may catalyze social change and racial justice. Though acknowledging past failures to establish cross-racial empathy, she focuses on examples that show avenues for future progress and change. Her study of ethnographic data from book clubs and college classrooms shows how engagement with African American culture and pedagogical support can lead to the kinds of white self-examination that make empathy possible. The result is a groundbreaking text that challenges the trend of focusing on society's failures in achieving cross-racial empathy and instead explores possible avenues for change.
From postwar efforts to end discrimination in the motion-picture industry, recording studios, and musicians’ unions, through the development of community-based arts organizations, to the creation of searing films critiquing conditions in the black working class neighborhoods of a city touting its multiculturalism—Black Arts West documents the social and political significance of African American arts activity in Los Angeles between the Second World War and the riots of 1992. Focusing on the lives and work of black writers, visual artists, musicians, and filmmakers, Daniel Widener tells how black cultural politics changed over time, and how altered political realities generated new forms of artistic and cultural expression. His narrative is filled with figures invested in the politics of black art and culture in postwar Los Angeles, including not only African American artists but also black nationalists, affluent liberal whites, elected officials, and federal bureaucrats.
Along with the politicization of black culture, Widener explores the rise of a distinctive regional Black Arts Movement. Originating in the efforts of wartime cultural activists, the movement was rooted in the black working class and characterized by struggles for artistic autonomy and improved living and working conditions for local black artists. As new ideas concerning art, racial identity, and the institutional position of African American artists emerged, dozens of new collectives appeared, from the Watts Writers Workshop, to the Inner City Cultural Center, to the New Art Jazz Ensemble. Spread across generations of artists, the Black Arts Movement in Southern California was more than the artistic affiliate of the local civil-rights or black-power efforts: it was a social movement itself. Illuminating the fundamental connections between expressive culture and political struggle, Black Arts West is a major contribution to the histories of Los Angeles, black radicalism, and avant-garde art.
In the 1920s and 1930s Boston became a rich and distinctive site of African American artistic production, unfolding at the same time as the Harlem Renaissance and encompassing literature, theater, music, and visual art. Owing to the ephemeral nature of much of this work, many of the era's primary sources have been lost.
In this book, Lorraine Elena Roses employs archival sources and personal interviews to recover this artistic output, examining the work of celebrated figures such as Dorothy West, Helene Johnson, Meta Warrick Fuller, and Allan Rohan Crite, as well as lesser-known artists including Eugene Gordon, Ralf Coleman, Gertrude "Toki" Schalk, and Alvira Hazzard. Black Bostonians and the Politics of Culture, 1920–1940 demonstrates how this creative community militated against the color line not solely through powerful acts of civil disobedience but also by way of a strong repertoire of artistic projects.
The Black Chicago Renaissance
Edited by Darlene Clark Hine and John McCluskey Jr. University of Illinois Press, 2012 Library of Congress NX512.3.A35B595 2012 | Dewey Decimal 700.899607307731
Beginning in the 1930s, Black Chicago experienced a cultural renaissance that lasted into the 1950s and rivaled the cultural outpouring in the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. The contributors to this volume analyze this prolific period of African American creativity in music, performance art, social science scholarship, and visual and literary artistic expression.
Unlike Harlem, Chicago was an urban industrial center that gave a unique working class and internationalist perspective to the cultural work being done in Chicago. This collection's various essays discuss the forces that distinguished the Black Chicago Renaissance from the Harlem Renaissance and placed the development of black culture in a national and international context. Among the topics discussed in this volume are Chicago writers Gwendolyn Brooks and Richard Wright, The Chicago Defender and Tivoli Theater, African American music and visual arts, and the American Negro Exposition of 1940.
Contributors are Hilary Mac Austin, David T. Bailey, Murry N. DePillars, Samuel A. Floyd Jr., Erik S. Gellman, Jeffrey Helgeson, Darlene Clark Hine, John McCluskey Jr., Christopher Robert Reed, Elizabeth Schlabach, and Clovis E. Semmes.
The post-civil rights era of the 1970s offered African Americans an all-too-familiar paradox. Material and symbolic gains contended with setbacks fueled by resentment and reaction. African American artists responded with black approaches to expression that made history in their own time and continue to exercise an enormous influence on contemporary culture and politics.
This collection's fascinating spectrum of topics begins with the literary and cinematic representations of slavery from the 1970s to the present. Other authors delve into visual culture from Blaxploitation to the art of Betye Saar to stage works like A Movie Star Has to Star in Black and White as well as groundbreaking literary works like Corregidora and Captain Blackman. A pair of concluding essays concentrate on institutional change by looking at the Seventies surge of black publishing and by analyzing Ntozake Shange's for colored girls. . . in the context of current controversies surrounding sexual violence. Throughout, the writers reveal how Seventies black cultural production anchors important contemporary debates in black feminism and other issues while spurring the black imagination to thrive amidst abject social and political conditions.
Contributors: Courtney R. Baker, Soyica Diggs Colbert, Madhu Dubey, Nadine Knight, Monica White Ndounou, Kinohi Nishikawa, Samantha Pinto, Jermaine Singleton, Terrion L. Williamson, and Lisa Woolfork
"A shrewdly designed, generously expansive, timely contribution to our understanding of how 'black' expression continues to define and defy the contours of global (post)modernity. The essays argue persuasively for a transnational ethos binding disparate African and diasporic enactments, and together provide a robust conversation about the nature, history, future, and even possibility of 'blackness' as a distinctive mode of cultural practice."
--Kimberly Benston, author of Performing Blackness
"Black Cultural Traffic is nothing less than our generation's manifesto on black performance and popular culture. With a distinguished roster of contributors and topics ranging across academic disciplines and the arts (including commentary on film, music, literature, theater, television, and visual cultures), this volume is not only required reading for scholars serious about the various dimensions of black performance, it is also a timely and necessary teaching tool. It captures the excitement and intellectual innovation of a field that has come of age. Kudos!"
--Dwight A. McBride, author of Why I Hate Abercrombie & Fitch
"The explosion of interest in black popular culture studies in the past fifteen years has left a significant need for a reader that reflects this new scholarly energy. Black Cultural Traffic answers that need."
--Mark Anthony Neal, author of Songs in the Key of Black Life
"A revolutionary anthology that will be widely read and taught. It crisscrosses continents and cultures and examines confluences and influences of black popular culture -- music, dance, theatre, television, fashion and film. It also adds a new dimension to current discussions of racial, ethnic, and national identity."
--Horace Porter, author of The Making of a Black Scholar
Whether engaged in same-sex desire or gender nonconformity, black queer individuals live with being perceived as a threat while simultaneously being subjected to the threat of physical, psychological, and socioeconomical injury. Attending to and challenging threats has become a defining element in queer black artists’ work throughout the black diaspora. GerShun Avilez analyzes the work of diasporic artists who, denied government protections, have used art to create spaces for justice. He first focuses on how the state seeks to inhibit the movement of black queer bodies through public spaces, whether on the street or across borders. From there, he pivots to institutional spaces—specifically prisons and hospitals—and the ways such places seek to expose queer bodies in order to control them. Throughout, he reveals how desire and art open routes to black queer freedom when policy, the law, racism, and homophobia threaten physical safety, civil rights, and social mobility.
As both an activist and the dynamic editor of Negro Digest, Hoyt W. Fuller stood at the nexus of the Black Arts Movement and the broader black cultural politics of his time. Jonathan Fenderson uses historical snapshots of Fuller's life and achievements to rethink the period and establish Fuller's important role in laying the foundation for the movement. In telling Fuller's story, Fenderson provides provocative new insights into the movement's international dimensions, the ways the movement took shape at the local level, the impact of race and other factors, and the challenges--corporate, political, and personal--that Fuller and others faced in trying to build black institutions. An innovative study that approaches the movement from a historical perspective, Building the Black Arts Movement is a much-needed reassessment of the trajectory of African American culture over two explosive decades.
Michele Wallace burst into public consciousness with the 1979 publication of Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman, a pioneering critique of the misogyny of the Black Power movement and the effects of racism and sexism on black women. Since then, Wallace has produced an extraordinary body of journalism and criticism engaging with popular culture and gender and racial politics. This collection brings together more than fifty of the articles she has written over the past fifteen years. Included alongside many of her best-known pieces are previously unpublished essays as well as interviews conducted with Wallace about her work. Dark Designs and Visual Culture charts the development of a singular, pathbreaking black feminist consciousness.
Beginning with a new introduction in which Wallace reflects on her life and career, this volume includes other autobiographical essays; articles focused on popular culture, the arts, and literary theory; and explorations of issues in black visual culture. Wallace discusses growing up in Harlem; how she dealt with the media attention and criticism she received for Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman, which was published when she was just twenty-seven years old; and her relationship with her family, especially her mother, the well-known artist Faith Ringgold. The many articles devoted to black visual culture range from the historical tragedy of the Hottentot Venus, an African woman displayed as a curiosity in nineteenth-century Europe, to films that sexualize the black body—such as Watermelon Woman, Gone with the Wind, and Paris Is Burning. Whether writing about the Anita Hill–Clarence Thomas hearings, rap music, the Million Man March, Toshi Reagon, multiculturalism, Marlon Riggs, or a nativity play in Bedford Stuyvesant, Wallace is a bold, incisive critic. Dark Designs and Visual Culture brings the scope of her career and thought into sharp focus.
In Darkening Mirrors, Stephanie Leigh Batiste examines how African Americans participated in U.S. cultural imperialism in Depression-era stage and screen performances. A population treated as second-class citizens at home imagined themselves as empowered, modern U.S. citizens and transnational actors in plays, operas, ballets, and films. Many of these productions, such as the 1938 hits Haiti and The "Swing" Mikado recruited large casts of unknown performers, involving the black community not only as spectators but also as participants. Performances of exoticism, orientalism, and primitivism are inevitably linked to issues of embodiment, including how bodies signify blackness as a cultural, racial, and global category. Whether enacting U.S. imperialism in westerns, dramas, dances, songs, jokes, or comedy sketches, African Americans maintained a national identity that registered a diasporic empowerment and resistance on the global stage. Boldly addressing the contradictions in these performances, Batiste challenges the simplistic notion that the oppressed cannot identify with oppressive modes of power and enact themselves as empowered subjects. Darkening Mirrors adds nuance and depth to the history of African American subject formation and stage and screen performance.
In this important new anthology, Venetria K. Patton and Maureen Honey bring together a comprehensive selection of texts from the Harlem Renaissance-a key period in the literary and cultural history of the United States. The collection revolutionizes our way of viewing this era, since it redresses the ongoing emphasis on the male writers of this time. Double-Take offers a unique, balanced collection of writers-men and women, gay and straight, familiar and obscure. Arranged by author, rather than by genre, this anthology includes works from major Harlem Renaissance figures as well as often-overlooked essayists, poets, dramatists, and artists.
The editors have included works from a wide variety of genres-poetry, short stories, drama, and essays-allowing readers to understand the true interdisciplinary quality of this cultural movement. Biographical sketches of the authors are provided and most of the pieces are included in their entirety. Double-Take also includes artwork and illustrations, many of which are from original journals and have never before been reprinted. Significantly, Double-Take is the first Harlem Renaissance title to include song lyrics to illustrate the interrelation of various art forms.
Richard Bruce Nugent (1906–1987) was a writer, painter, illustrator, and popular bohemian personality who lived at the center of the Harlem Renaissance. Protégé of Alain Locke, roommate of Wallace Thurman, and friend of Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston, the precocious Nugent stood for many years as the only African-American writer willing to clearly pronounce his homosexuality in print. His contribution to the landmark publication FIRE!!, “Smoke, Lilies and Jade,” was unprecedented in its celebration of same-sex desire. A resident of the notorious “Niggeratti Manor,” Nugent also appeared on Broadway in Porgy (the 1927 play) and Run, Little Chillun (1933) Thomas H. Wirth, a close friend of Nugent’s during the last years of the artist’s life, has assembled a selection of Nugent’s most important writings, paintings, and drawings—works mostly unpublished or scattered in rare and obscure publications and collected here for the first time. Wirth has written an introduction providing biographical information about Nugent’s life and situating his art in relation to the visual and literary currents which influenced him. A foreword by Henry Louis Gates Jr. emphasizes the importance of Nugent for African American history and culture.
In Search of Africa
Manthia Diawara Harvard University Press, 2000 Library of Congress E184.A24D53 1998 | Dewey Decimal 973.0496
"There I was, standing alone, unable to cry as I said goodbye to Sidimé Laye, my best friend, and to the revolution that had opened the door of modernity for me--the revolution that had invented me." This book gives us the story of a quest for a childhood friend, for the past and present, and above all for an Africa that is struggling to find its future.
In 1996 Manthia Diawara, a distinguished professor of film and literature in New York City, returns to Guinea, thirty-two years after he and his family were expelled from the newly liberated country. He is beginning work on a documentary about Sékou Touré, the dictator who was Guinea's first post-independence leader. Despite the years that have gone by, Diawara expects to be welcomed as an insider, and is shocked to discover that he is not.
The Africa that Diawara finds is not the one on the verge of barbarism, as described in the Western press. Yet neither is it the Africa of his childhood, when the excitement of independence made everything seem possible for young Africans. His search for Sidimé Laye leads Diawara to profound meditations on Africa's culture. He suggests solutions that might overcome the stultifying legacy of colonialism and age-old social practices, yet that will mobilize indigenous strengths and energies.
In the face of Africa's dilemmas, Diawara accords an important role to the culture of the diaspora as well as to traditional music and literature--to James Brown, Miles Davis, and Salif Kéita, to Richard Wright, Spike Lee, and the ancient epics of the griots. And Diawara's journey enlightens us in the most disarming way with humor, conversations, and well-told tales.
Focusing on expressions of popular culture among blacks in Africa, the United States, and the Carribean this collection of multidisciplinary essays takes on subjects long overdue for study. Fifteen essays cover a world of topics, from American girls’ Double Dutch games to protest discourse in Ghana; from Terry McMillan’s Waiting to Exhale to the work of Zora Neale Hurston; from South African workers to Just Another Girl on the IRT; from the history of Rasta to the evolving significance of kente clothl from rap video music to hip-hop to zouk.
The contributors work through the prisms of many disciplines, including anthropology, communications, English, ethnomusicology, history, linguistics, literature, philosophy, political economy, psychology, and social work. Their interpretive approaches place the many voices of popular black cultures into a global context. It affirms that black culture everywhere functions to give meaning to people’s lives by constructing identities that resist cultural, capitolist, colonial, and postcolonial domination.
Harlem Renaissance writer Dorothy West led a charmed life in many respects. Born into a distinguished Boston family, she appeared in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, then lived in the Soviet Union with a group that included Langston Hughes, to whom she proposed marriage. She later became friends with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, who encouraged her to finish her second novel, The Wedding, which became the octogenarian author’s first bestseller.
Literary Sisters reveals a different side of West’s personal and professional lives—her struggles for recognition outside of the traditional literary establishment, and her collaborations with talented African American women writers, artists, and performers who faced these same problems. West and her “literary sisters”—women like Zora Neale Hurston and West’s cousin, poet Helene Johnson—created an emotional support network that also aided in promoting, publishing, and performing their respective works. Integrating rare photos, letters, and archival materials from West’s life, Literary Sisters is not only a groundbreaking biography of an increasingly important author but also a vivid portrait of a pivotal moment for African American women in the arts.
"Mr. Baker perceives the harlem Renaissance as a crucial moment in a movement, predating the 1920's, when Afro-Americans embraced the task of self-determination and in so doing gave forth a distinctive form of expression that still echoes in a broad spectrum of 20th-century Afro-American arts. . . . Modernism and the Harlem Renaissance may well become Afro-America's 'studying manual.'"—Tonya Bolden, New York Times Book Review
During the 1960s and 1970s, a cadre of poets, playwrights, visual artists, musicians, and other visionaries came together to create a renaissance in African American literature and art. This charged chapter in the history of African American culture—which came to be known as the Black Arts Movement—has remained largely neglected by subsequent generations of critics. New Thoughts on the Black Arts Movement includes essays that reexamine well-known figures such as Amiri Baraka, Larry Neal, Gwendolyn Brooks, Sonia Sanchez, Betye Saar, Jeff Donaldson, and Haki Madhubuti. In addition, the anthology expands the scope of the movement by offering essays that explore the racial and sexual politics of the era, links with other period cultural movements, the arts in prison, the role of Black colleges and universities, gender politics and the rise of feminism, color fetishism, photography, music, and more. An invigorating look at a movement that has long begged for reexamination, this collection lucidly interprets the complex debates that surround this tumultuous era and demonstrates that the celebration of this movement need not be separated from its critique.
In a vibrant and passionate exploration of the twentieth-century civil rights and black power eras in American history, Martin uses cultural politics as a lens through which to understand the African-American freedom struggle. In the transformative postwar period, the intersection between culture and politics became increasingly central to the African-American fight for equality. In freedom songs, in the exuberance of an Aretha Franklin concert, in Faith Ringgold's exploration of race and sexuality, the personal and social became the political.
Radical Aesthetics and Modern Black Nationalism explores the long-overlooked links between black nationalist activism and the renaissance of artistic experimentation emerging from recent African American literature, visual art, and film. GerShun Avilez charts a new genealogy of contemporary African American artistic production that illuminates how questions of gender and sexuality guided artistic experimentation in the Black Arts Movement from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s. As Avilez shows, the artistic production of the Black Arts era provides a set of critical methodologies and paradigms rooted in the disidentification with black nationalist discourses. Avilez's close readings study how this emerging subjectivity, termed aesthetic radicalism, critiqued nationalist rhetoric in the past. It also continues to offer novel means for expressing black intimacy and embodiment via experimental works of art and innovative artistic methods.
A bold addition to an advancing field, Radical Aesthetics and Modern Black Nationalism rewrites recent black cultural production even as it uncovers unexpected ways of locating black radicalism.
In Selling the Race, Adam Green tells the story of how black Chicagoans were at the center of a national movement in the 1940s and ’50s, a time when African Americans across the country first started to see themselves as part of a single culture. Along the way, he offers fascinating reinterpretations of such events as the 1940 American Negro Exposition, the rise of black music and the culture industry that emerged around it, the development of the Associated Negro Press and the founding of Johnson Publishing, and the outcry over the 1955 lynching of Emmett Till.
By presenting African Americans as agents, rather than casualties, of modernity, Green ultimately reenvisions urban existence in a way that will resonate with anyone interested in race, culture, or the life of cities.
Named a Best Art Book of 2017 by the New York Times and Artforum
In South of Pico Kellie Jones explores how the artists in Los Angeles's black communities during the 1960s and 1970s created a vibrant, productive, and engaged activist arts scene in the face of structural racism. Emphasizing the importance of African American migration, as well as L.A.'s housing and employment politics, Jones shows how the work of black Angeleno artists such as Betye Saar, Charles White, Noah Purifoy, and Senga Nengudi spoke to the dislocation of migration, L.A.'s urban renewal, and restrictions on black mobility. Jones characterizes their works as modern migration narratives that look to the past to consider real and imagined futures. She also attends to these artists' relationships with gallery and museum culture and the establishment of black-owned arts spaces. With South of Pico, Jones expands the understanding of the histories of black arts and creativity in Los Angeles and beyond.
What accounts for the persistence of the figure of the black criminal in popular culture created by African Americans? Unearthing the overlooked history of art that has often seemed at odds with the politics of civil rights and racial advancement, Under a Bad Sign explores the rationale behind this tradition of criminal self-representation from the Harlem Renaissance to contemporary gangsta culture.
In this lively exploration, Jonathan Munby takes a uniquely broad view, laying bare the way the criminal appears within and moves among literary, musical, and visual arts. Munby traces the legacy of badness in Rudolph Fisher and Chester Himes’s detective fiction and in Claude McKay, Julian Mayfield, and Donald Goines’s urban experience writing. Ranging from Peetie Wheatstraw’s gangster blues to gangsta rap, he also examines criminals in popular songs. Turning to the screen, the underworld films of Oscar Micheaux and Ralph Cooper, the 1970s blaxploitation cycle, and the 1990s hood movie come under his microscope as well. Ultimately, Munby concludes that this tradition has been a misunderstood aspect of African American civic life and that, rather than undermining black culture, it forms a rich and enduring response to being outcast in America.